This week it’s been a bit of a doorstop detective story, to make up for last week’s slim volume. “With Our Blessing” by Jo Spain is set largely in rural Limerick, apart from a sequence in Dublin at the beginning that establishes Detective Inspector Tom Reynolds as the hero in the first volume of a series. The plot centres around the death of a nun, and her links to an infamous Magdalene Laundry, where young pregnant women were sent to have their babies as recently as the 1980s. Strangely enough the day I started reading this, I found an article in the Guardian on a related issue. It’s not history until it stops being current affairs – and this issue is still in the process of being uncovered.
The novel has a large cast of police men and women, to the point where I started to find it difficult to distinguish between them. However, the pace is good, with the tension kept up over the 500+ pages.There was a neat subplot which relied on one of them being a bit useless, and another setting up an unrequited romance, but the author also looked at maternity from a number of angles through various characters. The enclosed setting of a nunnery, as the snow closes in and cuts the investigating detectives off from their colleagues, is reminiscent both of the traditional country house murder and Louise Penny’s volume set in a Canadian monastery.
The author, who is an Irish journalist, is new to me, but the second volume came out in Ireland last autumn so I hope we’ll see it soon over here. I haven’t read much in the way of Irish crime, but “With Our Blessing” has left me wanting more.